Don’t Tread on Me

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

-Excerpt from an article attributed to Benjamin Franklin originally published in The Pennsylvania Journal, 12 December 1775. Click here for the full letter.

The rattlesnake’s warning is distinctive. If you hear it, you know to stop, to look around, and to go the other way if possible. The rattlesnake is a fearsome creature, but he is not mean by nature. Instead, he is quite considerate. Compared to the other poisonous animals in the world, he is the only one to give you a warning. He says, “Think carefully before you tread on me. I don’t want to bite you, but I will if you force me to it.”

For centuries, the British were one of the dominant powers on this planet. They felt they could go wherever they wanted, rule where the profits were greatest, and generally walk all over everybody else. The American colonies didn’t prefer the British tyranny and responded by raising the Gadsden Flag. It was a symbol and a warning: If you tread on us, we will bite.

If we choose to be no more than clods of clay, then we shall be used as clods of clay for braver feet to tread on.

Marie Corelli

The world has changed considerably since those days in the late 1700’s. Does this mean people have changed? There are still those who think the world is theirs for the taking. They have no qualms trying to control those they deem inferior. And if we allow it, then we are no more than clods of clay for their feet. Like the early Colonials, we are faced with a choice. Do we passively surrender our freedoms, or do we do as the rattlesnake? If we choose freedom over tyranny, then we must sound the warning and let the oppressors know we can bite. We can fight back.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s